RSPCA chief executive meets Defra as another shipment of sheep sails

RSPCA chief executive meets Defra as another shipment of sheep sails

Gavin said: “I am deeply concerned that Ramsgate continues to be used to ship sheep and calves when there are no emergency facilities at the port should the animals need to be unloaded."

This morning five lorries full of sheep were loaded onto the boat, the Joline* -many destined for ritual slaughter without pre-stunning for the Festival of Eid this Friday. They sailed just before 2pm today.  A sixth lorry loaded with sheep broke down en route to the port and never made the sailing.

RSPCA inspectors were again at the port to attempt to safeguard the welfare of the animals before they left and detect any offences committed by the exporters.

Because the lorries were delayed in arriving at the port, they had less than 30 minutes to look at all five lorries of sheep before they sailed, but in that time they discovered a sheep with a horn hanging off, causing blood loss.  A vet was called and the sheep was put to sleep on the Joline and then the body was dragged off the ship.

RSPCA chief inspector Steve Dockery was at the port this morning. He said:”This was a glaring example of how problems can arise and even with a short window of opportunity to look at these animals we found this suffering sheep. The facilities here are simply not suitable for dealing with these kind or problems.”

Gavin added "Having witnessed what actually happens at Ramsgate I will also raise the lack of thorough inspection of all trucks despite many warning notices being issued previously and Animal Health's clear failure to co-operate with RSPCA Inspectors “

Thanet District Council took the decision to close the port in the middle of September after an horrific incident in which 47 sheep were killed. Three drowned and 44 other sheep, including a sheep with a broken leg, were humanely destroyed on veterinary advice.

"We applaud Thanet Council's decision and welcome the Ministerial inquiry into these awful events announced by Agriculture Minister, David Heath. We are submitting our evidence and eye witness accounts of the horror at Ramsgate."

Transporters told the court that they would lose customers and their business would be irreparably damaged if they were prevented from transporting up to 75,000 live sheep to France for the Festival of Eid and to cover other weekly orders.

Mr Justice Burton said the port should reopen pending a judicial review of the council’s decision to close it. He laid great weight on the view of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that it is not necessary to provide emergency facilities at the port itself and that the existence of contingency premises within an hour’s drive is sufficient safeguard for animal welfare. The RSPCA does not accept this view as in the best interests of sheep or calves being transported.

"The RSPCA will be back in the courts to lend our support to the Judicial Review and arguing that this port is not fit for this dire trade" –ends-

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